26 November 2014

Australian Crime Costs

'Counting the costs of crime in Australia: A 2011 estimate' (Australian Institute of Criminology Research in Policy and Practice no.129, 2014) by Russell G Smith, Penny Jorna, Josh Sweeney and Georgina Fuller offers an estimate of "the cost of crime to our community" as of 2011.

The AIC estimates that the total cost of crime in that year was $47.6 billion, equivalent to 3.4 percent of national GDP.
This represents a 49% increase since 2001, where the total cost of crime was calculated as $31.8b (3.8% GDP). However, in terms of percentage of GDP, the overall cost of crime decreased over the period 2001 to 2011. 
The "most extensive costs" are attributed to
  •  administering criminal justice agencies (police, courts and corrections), 
  • assisting victims, 
  • insurance and 
  • greater investment on crime prevention measures. 
These costs doubled, from $12.8 billion in 2001 to $24.6 billion in 2011. In the 2011 estimates "additional Government agency costs" were included in the calculations.

The AIC estimates that the "most costly crimes to the community" were -
  • Fraud ($6b) 
  • Drug Abuse ($3b) 
  • Assault ($3b) 
  • Criminal Damage (vandalism and graffiti) ($2.7b) 
  • Arson ($2.2b) 
In dealing with "Criminal justice system costs" the AIC states that
According to the Report on Government Services for 2011–12 (SCRGSP 2013), the total real recurrent expenditure (less revenue from own sources) on justice in 2010–11 was $13.1b. Of this, approximately $12.5b was spent on criminal justice. The remaining $635.5m was spent on the administration of civil courts. 
Police costs 
According to the Report on Government Services for 2011–12, real recurrent expenditure (including user cost of capital, less revenue from own sources and payroll tax) on police services for 2011–12 was $9,459m (SCRGSP 2013). This relates to state and territory policing only and excludes the cost of the AFP and other federal non-policing law enforcement agencies, which are included within Commonwealth costs below. Not all police time is spent on crime, however. For example, New South Wales Police Force (2012) estimated that almost 80 percent of time was spent either responding to incidents, criminal investigations or giving judicial support; the remaining 20 percent being spent on traffic and commuter services (although some of this time may have involved criminal matters) and support functions. The attribution of time by the New South Wales Police Force was similar to findings of the UK Her Majesty’s Inspectorate Constabulary (2012) who found that between 80–90 percent of police time was spent dealing directly or indirectly with crime. On the basis of an 80 percent allocation for crime-related functions, the total cost of policing crime in Australia in 2011–12 was $7,567m. 
Prosecution agency costs 
Previous AIC research into the costs of crime has excluded the cost of public prosecutions of criminal conduct. As this is an important area of expenditure, this is being canvassed in the present report for the first time. The recurrent expenditure on state and territory prosecution agencies in 2011–12 was $303m (see Table 29). The costs of the Office of the CDPP are included within Commonwealth costs of crime below. ... 
Court costs 
According to the Report on Government Services for 2011–12, real recurrent expenditure (net of monies received through electronic infringement and enforcement systems less payroll tax) on criminal courts for 2011–12 was $779,956,000 (SCRGSP 2013). This relates to state and territory courts at supreme, district/county and magistrates’ levels including children’s courts, coroners courts and probate registries, as well as federal courts, but excluding the High Court of Australia and tribunals, and specialist jurisdiction courts such as Indigenous courts, circle sentencing courts and drug courts. The cost of criminal matters handled by the High Court of Australia is included as part of the federal government costs below. 
In the case of coroners’ courts, not all coronial proceedings relate to criminal matters, as coroners are required to investigate all deaths that have occurred if the death appears to be unexpected, unnatural, or violent, the death is of a person who was in custody or care, or the death occurred as a result of a fire or explosion (New South Wales Coroners Court 2013). Costs of coroners’ courts for each jurisdiction in 2011–12 were $41.1m. It is estimated that one-half of national coroners’ court costs relate to crime, amounting to $20.6m which was deducted from the above Productivity Commission figure, making a total of $759,356,000. 
Corrective services 
According to the Report on Government Services for 2011–12, total recurrent operating expenditure and capital costs on prisons and community corrections, less payroll tax in 2011–12 dollars was $3,255,782,000 for prisons, $103,013,000 for transportation costs and $478,053,000 for community corrections, totalling $3,836,848,000 (SCRGSP 2013). This relates to public and private sector-operated adult custodial facilities and community corrections. These corrective services costs do not include juvenile justice costs, which are discussed below, nor the costs of police custody (which are included within policing costs above), offenders (or alleged offenders) held in psychiatric institutions or people held in immigration or military detention. 
Commonwealth agencies 
A number of Commonwealth agencies have functions and programs that relate to crime and its control. As noted above, where new crime reduction programs are used, government outlays increase accordingly and so the cost of responding to crime is closely related to the ways in which criminal justice policy is framed. On the basis of information presented in Department of Attorney-General 2011–12 Portfolio Budget Statements, the total resources allocated to the portfolio were $4,762m (AGD 2013). Examining the expense measures for each agency that could have some crime relevance, a percentage of total resources was estimated for those portfolio agencies that have some criminal justice and crime-related relevance (see Table 30). The percentage is indicative only, as precise crime-related cost allocation was not always apparent. The total estimated resources allocated to crime and its control, excluding terrorism across all agencies was $1,792m in 2011–12.  ... 
In addition to agencies within the Attorney-General’s Portfolio, there are other Commonwealth departments and agencies that undertake functions in relation to the prevention, control or response to crime. One example is the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry Biosecurity Division that works with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service in maintaining the integrity of Australian borders. The Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry allocated $297m in the 2011–12 financial period for quarantine and export services at Australian ports and borders. Other agencies that have some crime-related functions include those dealing with Indigenous Australians, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, agencies dealing with communications and computer security, research and scientific agencies, corporate and business regulatory agencies, revenue and finance agencies, and health and welfare agencies. Further research is needed to disaggregate the crime-related functions of these departments and agencies from their other functions in order to provide an accurate assessment of their contribution to the overall costs of crime in Australia, while ensuring that double counting does not occur.